page 2012/41-38 - Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 38) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_038.jpg]

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ZA COM NMFP-2012/41-2012/41-38


Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 38) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_038.jpg]


  • 2011 (Creation)

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Verne Harris

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Page 38 of Nelson Mandela's Warders

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Access by permission of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

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  • English

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Indeed, Mandela wrote in Long Walk to Freedom that he did not know Gregory very well on the island. This would hardly have been the case had he spent hours recounting the history of the ANC.

As far as Jack Swart is concerned, most of Gregory’s account of Mandela’s time in Victor Verster, he estimates sixty per cent, is ‘nonsense’. ‘[At Victor Verster] Major Marais was the man in charge. He was the one who had tea with Mandela and talked to Mandela. Gregory and me we were both warrant officers. Gregory put himself in the major’s place, in my place, in [Christo] Brand’s place. The stories in his book are nonsense. He told me it wasn’t him that put it that way but the writer [Bob Graham]. But he would have read it before it was published. He would have known it was not true.’

Gregory appears for the first time in Long Walk to Freedom shortly after Mandela has been moved from Robben Island to Pollsmoor. Mandela writes, It was far easier for my wife and family to get to Pollsmoor than to Robben Island, and this made a tremendous difference. The supervision of visits also became more humane. Often, Winnie’s visits were overseen by Warrant Officer James Gregory, who had been a censor on Robben Island. I had not know him terribly well, but he knew us, because he had been responsible for reviewing our incoming and outgoing mail.

At Pollsmoor I got to know Gregory better and found him a welcome contrast to the typical warder. He was polished and soft-spoken, and treated Winnie with courtesy and deference. Instead of barking, “Time up!” he would say, “Mrs Mandela, you have five more minutes.”(p614)

A page later he adds, In May 1984, I found some consolation that seemed to make up for all the discomforts. On a scheduled visit from Winnie, Zeni and her youngest daughter, I was escorted by Warrant Officer Gregory who,

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